- Written by Carol Morgan
- Hits: 46
Love. It makes the world go ‘round, right? Well, at least that’s the how the saying goes. But is it true? It should be, but so many people confuse love with things like jealousy or possessiveness. True love isn’t either of those things. But these 17 things are. So here are the lessons that real love teaches us:
1. Love means letting go of expectations.
Sure, we all want people to behave the way we want them to. We want them to be more affectionate. Or more outgoing. Or smarter. Or more ambitious. All of these things are expectations. Expectations are just your requirements for “acceptability” of loving someone. But true love has no expectations. It simply loves “as is.”
2. Love doesn’t play the victim role or blame others.
Love doesn’t think others are “out to get them.” Love doesn’t think their loved ones are wrong. Love works together. It takes responsibility. It forgives and allows other people’s actions to be their journey. Love doesn’t take things personally.
3. Love includes letting go.
Love doesn’t equal possession. Just as the saying goes, “If you love something, set it free. If it comes back, it’s yours. If it doesn’t, then it never was.” There is truth to that. Love allows people their freedom. It doesn’t hold tightly and crush their wings in attempt to keep them. True love doesn’t want to possess. It is willing to set you free if you want to be.
4. Love doesn’t require you to continue a relationship.
You may love someone very much. But you may not be compatible with them. Or they may drive you crazy with their continued disregard for your feelings. You can still love them, but that doesn’t mean you have to be with them. Love doesn’t mean that you have to stay, and stay, and stay. You can leave the relationship and love them anyway.
5. Love has no room for jealousy.
Like possession, jealousy doesn’t equal love. We think that if we’re not jealous of our loved ones that it means that we don’t love them. True love has confidence in the quality of the relationship. It knows that the other person is happy and content coming back to you, and only you.
6. Love is the absence of fear.
You can put all emotions on a continuum. On one end, you have love. Then appreciation. After that, it’s joy, happiness, contentment, and satisfaction. On the opposite end of the continuum of love is fear. Other fear-based emotions include, hatred, insecurity, jealousy, or greed.
7. Love is not needing and wanting.
One of the things we try to teach kids is that there is a clear difference between a want and a need. Needing someone is a feeling based in fear. You fear that you can’t live without them, so you need them. And remember, fear is the opposite of love. Wanting someone in your life gives them the freedom to leave, but still shows them you love them.
8. Love is an action, not just a feeling.
Humans tend to be addicted to intense emotion – especially when it feels good. So when we’re in love, we want to feel that way forever. But guess what? That higher than “Cloud 9” feeling goes away after a while. That doesn’t mean you don’t love the other person anymore, it just means that it’s not new anymore. So that’s where the action needs to kick in. Show the person you love them. Don’t just assume they know.
9. Love is unconditional.
The word ‘unconditional’ means that there are no expectations or limitations set. To love unconditionally is a difficult thing, and most humans aren’t good at that. But true love really does love without trying to change the other person.
10. Love means putting other people’s needs equal to – or before – your own.
While people may be inherently selfish for survival purposes, this does not serve us well in relationships. If you don’t put other people’s needs at least equal to your own, they will grow resentful. Real love truly, genuinely cares about other people’s happiness and will go to great lengths to make people feel valued.
11. Love is the highest vibration emotion that there is.
Science has proven that emotions like love and fear have very different vibrations. They can actually measure them. Love vibrates very fast, whereas fear-based emotions (think jealousy, possessiveness, hatred, greed, etc.) vibrate very slowly. When you love completely and unconditionally, there is no fear involved. The vibrations of love make you feel good at all times.
12. Love is focusing on quality, not quantity.
Love focuses on the quality of your relationship, not its longevity. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “It’s better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all?” Just because your relationship lasts a long time doesn’t mean that you have true love. Real love can be very brief. Therefore, quality and quantity of love are not the same things.
13. Love requires attention.
Love doesn’t ignore. It doesn’t look the other way. It wants to be present and be together. When people are in love, sometimes they think that they don’t have to “do any more work.” But real love actually enjoys giving attention to another person. It feels good, and doesn’t see giving attention to another person as a chore.
14. Love understands and accepts differences.
Let’s face it. We’re all different. Even identical twins aren’t exactly the same. They have different experiences and outlooks about the world. Real love doesn’t make other people wrong for being different. When people truly love another person, they accept their differences.
15. Love varies in how it is expressed and accepted.
What makes us “feel loved” varies. In the book The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, he explains the different ways people give and receive love: (1) Words (2) Acts of Service, (3) Giving Gifts, (4) Spending Time Together, and (5) Touch. It’s important to discover other people’s love language so you can understand each other and give love in a way that the other person recognizes it.
16. Love makes you feel good, not bad.
Many people confuse being in a relationship with love. Just because you’re in a relationship doesn’t mean there is true love present. If there is jealousy, possessiveness, constant fighting, abuse (verbal, emotional, or physical), that is not love. Refer back to #6. Those are fear-based emotions and actions.
17. Love has empathy.
Empathy is the ability to put yourself into another person’s shoes and see a situation from his/her point of view. Love has deep empathy. “When you hurt, I hurt.” People who truly love one another don’t want to hurt them. They want them to feel good. They care about their feelings and try everything they can to make them feel valued and worthy.
Remember, love is happiness, appreciation, and feeling good. Anything other than that is not love. If we all loved one another as ourselves, the world would be a better place!
- Written by Doug Roy
- Hits: 28
What if there was a study dedicated to unearthing the secrets to a happy and purposeful life? It would have to be conducted over the course of many decades, following the lives of real people from childhood until old age, in order to see how they changed and what they learned. And it would probably be too ambitious for anyone to actually undertake.
Only, a group of Harvard researchers did undertake it, producing a comprehensive, flesh-and-blood picture of some of life’s fundamental questions: how we grow and change, what we value as time goes on, and what is likely to make us happy and fulfilled.
The study, known as the Harvard Grant Study, has some limitations -- it didn’t include women, for starters. Still, it provides an unrivaled glimpse into a subset of humanity, following 268 male Harvard undergraduates from the classes of 1938-1940 (now well into their 90s) for 75 years, collecting data on various aspects of their lives at regular intervals. And the conclusions are universal.
We spoke to George Vaillant, the Harvard psychiatrist who directed the study from 1972 to 2004 and wrote a book about it, in order to revisit the study’s findings. Below, five lessons from the Grant Study to apply to your own pursuit of a happier and more meaningful life.
Love Is Really All That Matters
It may seem obvious, but that doesn’t make it any less true: Love is key to a happy and fulfilling life. As Vaillant puts it, there are two pillars of happiness. "One is love," he writes. "The other is finding a way of coping with life that does not push love away."
Vaillant has said that the study's most important finding is that the only thing that matters in life is relationships. A man could have a successful career, money and good physical health, but without supportive, loving relationships, he wouldn't be happy ("Happiness is only the cart; love is the horse.").
It’s About More than Money and Power
The Grant Study's findings echoed those of other studies -- that acquiring more money and power doesn't correlate to greater happiness. That’s not to say money or traditional career success don’t matter. But they’re small parts of a much larger picture -- and while they may loom large for us in the moment, they diminish in importance when viewed in the context of a full life.
“We found that contentment in the late 70s was not even suggestively associated with parental social class or even the man’s own income," says Vaillant. "In terms of achievement, the only thing that matters is that you be content at your work.”
Regardless of How We Begin Life, We Can All Become Happier
A man named Godfrey Minot Camille went into the Grant study with fairly bleak prospects for life satisfaction: He had the lowest rating for future stability of all the subjects and he had previously attempted suicide. But at the end of his life, he was one of the happiest. Why? As Vaillant explains, “He spent his life searching for love.”
Connection Is Crucial
"Joy is connection,” Vaillant says. "The more areas in your life you can make connection, the better."
The study found strong relationships to be far and away the strongest predictor of life satisfaction. And in terms of career satisfaction, too, feeling connected to one's work was far more important than making money or achieving traditional success.
"The conclusion of the study, not in a medical but in a psychological sense, is that connection is the whole shooting match," says Vaillant.
As life goes on, connections become even more important. The Grant Study provides strong support for the growing body of research that has linked social ties with longevity, lower stress levels and improved overall well-being.
Challenges –- and the Perspective They Give You -- Can Make You Happier
The journey from immaturity to maturity, says Vaillant, is a sort of movement from narcissism to connection, and a big part of this shift has to do with the way we deal with challenges.
Coping mechanisms -- “the capacity to make gold out of shit,” as Vaillant puts it -- have a significant effect on social support and overall well-being. The secret is replacing narcissism, a single-minded focus on one's own emotional oscillations and perceived problems, with mature coping defenses, Vaillant explains, citing Mother Teresa and Beethoven as examples.
“Mother Teresa had a perfectly terrible childhood, and her inner spiritual life was very painful," says Vaillant. "But she had a highly successful life by caring about other people.
Creative expression is another way to productively deal with challenges and achieve meaning and well-being.
"The secret of Beethoven being able to cope with misery through his art was when he wrote 'Ode to Joy,'" says Vaillant. "Beethoven was able to make connection with his music."